Following the announcement from the watchdog National Audit Office that there is no evidence benefit sanctions help unemployed and disabled people into work, Mid Scotland & Fife MSP Alex Rowley has called for an end to the practice.
The Scottish Labour Deputy Leader has consistently raised in the Scottish parliament, concerns over the application of sanctions and has been a vocal supporter of the devolution of employment services.
As part of the Scotland Act 2016, the Scottish Parliament will have full control over a large number of social security powers as well as the ability to create new benefits or “top-up” existing ones. Alongside the new powers is the proposal to create a new social security agency for Scotland which will administrate the system in Scotland.
Mr Rowley has been supportive of these new measures and has called on the Scottish Tories to join other parties in the Scottish Parliament in calling for an end to the sanctions. He said:
“Ruth Davidsons Tories have insisted that the current system of sanctions should continue. This remains their position despite all the evidence showing it does not work and indeed it is creating absolute poverty across Scotland. Absolute poverty being defined as not having access to the very basics to survive. Food is a basic.
“It is abundantly clear that the sanctions regime does not work. Now we know that the Government’s own watchdog agrees. So why are the Scottish Tories still supporting this inhumane and unfair sanctions regime? Sanctions put people in to poverty – that is a fact. They contribute to the rise of foodbanks and do nothing to alleviate the struggle that people are facing.
“The report from the National Audit Office shows that the current system isn’t working. It highlights its arbitrary implementation, the fact that it doesn’t save money, and most importantly it doesn’t help people in to work. We need a new approach, one based in respect and dignity. We must stop this regime now and put in place a system that will support and help people achieve support, skills and work.”
Notes to Editors:
Link to National Audit Office report: https://www.nao.org.uk/report/benefit-sanctions/